Jon Lester Worthy of Co-MVP Honors and Other Notes From Red Sox’ World Series-Clinching Victory Over Cardinals

World SeriesThat’s all she wrote.

After 178 games, the Red Sox have concluded their 2013 season. And unlike last year, it’ll be a joyous winter in Boston, as the Red Sox are back on top of the baseball world.

The Red Sox defeated the Cardinals in Game 6 of the World Series on Wednesday to capture their third championship in 10 years, which is pretty amazing when you consider the 86-year drought that the franchise suffered through before 2004. It’s even more amazing when you consider the total mess that was 2012.

John Lackey pitched 6 2/3 innings Wednesday to guide the Red Sox to the Promised Land. He exited to a standing ovation from the Fenway Faithful, and acknowledged the raucous crowd with a tip of the cap — something we hadn’t seen before. Lackey, after three awful years to begin his Boston tenure, was terrific in 2013. And with the cap tip came a sense of closure, as both sides seem to realize that the past is the past.

The Red Sox’ 2013 World Series run was certainly special. It involved countless memories, and the bearded bunch will forever go down as one of the greatest teams in franchise history. Each player seemed to have a signature moment, which highlights just how great a team effort it was.

The worst-to-first turnaround is complete. The baseball season is over. And until a champion is crowned next October, the Red Sox will hold the title of “defending champions.”

Let’s relive some of the World Series magic — Game 6, in particular.

  • The Red Sox’ World Series title is their eighth overall.

The triumph makes the Red Sox just the fourth team to win at least eight World Series championships in their history — joining the Yankees (27), Cardinals (11) and Philadelphia/Oakland Athletics (9).

  • David Ortiz added to his Hall of Fame resume with an incredible World Series performance that earned him series MVP honors.

Ortiz hit .688 (11-for-16) with two home runs, six RBIs and seven runs scored. He reached base in 18 of his 24 trips to the plate, resulting in a ridiculous .750 on-base percentage. Ortiz’s seven walks in this year’s Fall Classic tied Carlton Fisk’s 1975 franchise record for a single World Series.

Click here for why Ortiz is a Hall of Famer >>

  • Ortiz’s performance in the Fall Classic was not only enough for MVP honors, but it was also a historic effort.

Among players with at least 10 plate appearances in a single World Series, only Billy Hatcher (1990 Reds) produced a higher average (.750) and on-base percentage (.800).

Ortiz is just the second player to reach safely at least three times in five straight games during a single World Series, joining Barry Bonds (2002). He’s also the first player to rack up 11 hits in a single World Series since Lance Berkman produced 11 knocks for the Cardinals in the 2011 Series. Marquis Grissom (12 in 1996) was the last player to compile more than 11 hits in a single World Series.

  • Stepping up on the big stage is nothing new for Ortiz. His career .454 (20-for-44) average in the Fall Classic is the best among players with at least 50 World Series plate appearances.

Ortiz’s nine career extra-base hits in the World Series are a Red Sox record, and his 14 career World Series RBIs have him tied with Dwight Evans for the most in club history.

  • For a snapshot of just how global baseball has become over the years, one must look no further than World Series MVPs.

Ortiz is the fourth foreign-born player in the last five years to win World Series MVP. Hideki Matsui (Yankees, 2009, Japan), Edgar Renteria (Giants, 2010, Colombia) and Pablo Sandoval (Giants, 2012, Venezuela) are the other three.

  • Ortiz could have puffed out his chest, flipped everyone the bird and pulled a Rickey Henderson, declaring himself “the greatest of all time.” Instead, he tipped his cap to the Cardinals after a hard-fought series.

“Hey, let me tell you, those guys ‑‑ I was hitting well, but it wasn’t like I was hitting pitches right down the middle of the plate. They were trying their best to get me out. I was just putting [up] good swings. I was getting away with some swings.  Some others had put good swings on it,” Ortiz said. “But that pitching staff, like I said before, I feel sorry for the St. Louis Cardinals when they have to sign all of them at once. They’re going to have to bring a lot of money to the table because you have a whole bunch of cats out there performing at that level on that stage, you’re really dealing with an unbelievable pitching staff. I tell you what, man, those guys, they’re legit.”

  • No one is going to complain about Ortiz receiving MVP honors. He put together a dominant performance, and absolutely deserves to be recognized.

That being said, Jon Lester would have won the award almost any other year, and, in my opinion, deserved Co-MVP honors alongside Ortiz. After all, it happened as recently as 2001 with Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity to honor two long-time Red Sox veterans who have meant so much to the organization.

Lester produced two huge wins in Games 1 and 5, and was absolutely ace-like in doing so. The lefty gave up just one run (a solo homer) on nine hits in 15 1/3 innings in the World Series (0.59 ERA). He struck out 15 and walked only one.

Lester went toe-to-toe with the Cardinals’ best, Adam Wainwright, and rose to the occasion. It’s hard to top that, although Ortiz somehow did.

  • Shane Victorino really knows how to pick his spots.

Victorino, who missed Games 4 and 5 with lower back tightness, gave the Red Sox a 3-0 lead in the third inning of Game 6 with a bases-clearing double high off the Monster. It was the second time in the postseason that Victorino came up big in a Game 6, as The Flyin’ Hawaiian, of course, hit a go-ahead grand slam in the seventh inning of Game 6 of the ALCS.

  • Victorino added an RBI single with the bases loaded in the fourth inning, giving him an MLB-record 20 RBIs in bases-loaded situations in his postseason career. He’s seven RBIs ahead of Tino Martinez, who drove in 13 runs with the bases loaded during his postseason career.

Victorino entered Game 6 hitting just .188 (9-for-48) in the postseason, including 0-for-10 in the World Series. But it only takes one swing to make everyone forget such struggles, and Victorino more than made up for his inconsistency with timely hits in October.

“Shane Victorino has got a little bit of flair for the dramatic,” Farrell said. “The hits that he did record in the postseason couldn’t have been bigger and couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. Whether it was in Game 6 against the Tigers or the three‑run (double) here tonight. He’s missed a number of games this year, and he’s always had the ability to step back in after a couple — three days missed — and seemingly not miss his timing at the plate.”

  • While Victorino’s bases-clearing double really heightened the celebratory atmosphere at Fenway Park on Wednesday, it was Stephen Drew’s solo homer to lead off the fourth inning that showed that a victory was inevitable for the Red Sox.

Drew entered Game 6 hitting .080 (4-for-50) with 19 strikeouts in the postseason, and he hadn’t homered since Sept. 19 — a span of 80 at-bats. But Drew jumped all over Michael Wacha’s first pitch of the fourth inning, and sent it sailing into the Red Sox’ bullpen.

“Almost a little poetic justice tonight given the struggles of Stephen Drew offensively,” Farrell said after the game. “We could see his timing start to come around over in St. Louis, and for him to hit one out of the ballpark, a big night for him.”

  • Drew became the first Red Sox player ever to hit a World Series home run from the No. 8 spot in the lineup.

The last Red Sox player to hit a postseason home run from the No. 8 spot in the order was none other than Stephen’s brother, J.D. Drew, in Game 3 of the 2009 ALDS.

Mike Napoli, who homered in Game 4 of the 2011 World Series as a member of the Rangers, was the last big leaguer to hit a home run from No. 8 spot in a World Series game.

  • Stephen and J.D. are the second pair of brothers to play in the playoffs for the Red Sox. Pedro and Ramon Martinez comprise the other sibling tandem.
  • John Lackey became the first pitcher ever to start and win the clinching game of a World Series for two different teams. Lackey also won Game 7 of the 2002 World Series as a rookie with the Angels.

Jimmy Key (1992 with Blue Jays, 1996 with Yankees) and Catfish Hunter (1972 with A’s, 1978 with Yankees) are the only two others to record a World Series-clinching win with two teams. They each earned one win as a starter and one win as a reliever.

  • The 2013 Red Sox joined the 1991 Twins as the only teams ever to win a World Series one season after finishing in last place.

The Red Sox had a .426 winning percentage in 2012 (69-93). No team with a winning percentage that low had ever won a World Series the following season.

Have a question for Ricky Doyle? Send it to him via Twitter at @TheRickyDoyle or send it here.

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